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tv   US Senate  CSPAN  April 20, 2016 10:00am-12:01pm EDT

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so our next step, our last step is final passage. and i would strongly encourage all of our colleagues to vote aye this morning. there are plenty of reasons to do that, and i will repeat what i said yesterday. our bill. will help america produce more energy. it will help americans save more energy. it will protect our mineral security and our manufacturers. it will boost innovation leading to new technologies and new jobs. it will increase america's influence on the world stage allowing us to finally become that global energy super power and enjoy the benefits that come with it. mr. president, this is a good bill. this is an important bill for our country, and i thank our colleagues who have worked with us to get us to this point today. the presiding officer: thank you. the senator's time has expired. the clerk will read the title of the bill for the third time. the clerk: s. 2012, a bill to
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provide for the modernization of the energy policy of the united states and for other purposes. the presiding officer: the question now occurs on passage of s. 2012 as amended. ms. murkowski: i ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or to change their vote? if not the ayes are 85. the nays are 12.
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the bill as amended is passed. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alaska. a senator, i ask unanimous consent that the senate be in a period of morning business for ten minutes equally divided with senators permitted to speak within. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. murkowski: mr. president, i want to thank my colleagues for their support for the energy policy modernization act. i think the vote that we have just concluded is indicative of what i have been saying for years now. i got a relatively lengthy policy man or handbook, if you will, of how i view the energy space and how we can work to advance our energy policies. but as with so much nowadays, if you put down 115-page book or if
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you have a multipage white paper, it kind of goes by the way. so i have framed my energy policy in to three simple words. i don't have it on a chart this afternoon, but it's basically pretty simple. "energy is good." and i think that's what we have concluded with passage of the energy policy modernization act of 2016. 85 members supporting us in this effort here. i want to thank my ranking member, senator cantwell, for working with me throughout this very, very collaborative process. the way that we built this bill was not just the two of us as colleagues on the energy committee, but working with members on the committee across
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the aisle, working with other members of this body in a very open and transparent manner. and it was not just colleagues here within the senate. the outreach that we did with the numerous listening sessions that we had, the -- really the work that we did with the administration. i want to thank the secretary of energy, secretary moniz for his assistance in what we built. what you have in front of us and what we are recognizing today is truly a strong, committed process that yielded a strong product. i would like to acknowledge the very, very, very hard work of our staffs. we all know that we cannot do
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what we need to do as senators without good people backing us up at every turn. i am extraordinarily fortunate as the chairman of the energy committee to have a team on the senate energy committee, the majority side, that is not only extraordinarily hardworking, they are all amazing experts when it comes to the energy space. i want to particularly recognize my staff director colin hayes. colin came in to this energy bill, let's just say midway. he came on as my staff director at the first of the year, after my previous staff director, karen billups who had been serving on the energy committee for close to 25 years.
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so you have that experience and expertise leaving, and karen worked so hard to help craft so much of this bill. but then you needed the technician to move it through this process. and colin hayes stepped up in an extraordinary and remarkable way. and i thank him for all that he did to guide us here. i'd also like to recognize the others on my energy committee staff: pat mccormick, brian hughes, kelly donnelly, lucy murfitt. i want to give a special shoutout to lucy because she was able to navigate some of those issues that perhaps were not seen up front and in person, but behind the scenes were very, very important, not the least of which was the amendment that we took a voice vote on yesterday relating to the horses, wild horses in north carolina. so to be able to manage some
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interesting issues and do it deftly was lucy's strong suit. severn randall, andy hoffitt. heidi huntson, jason sufficientnagle. crystal edens, diana mitchell, karen dilldi. these were members on our team on the republican side that have been working together for days and nights, weeks and months now. but you can't work a bill successfully as we have today without working hand in glove with your counterparts on the other side, just as senator cantwell and i worked together, our staffs worked together. and they were led very, very ably by angela beckford ditman. angela came to the committee
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being pulled out of another place at the request of senator cantwell and came to us in a way that has been extraordinary with her guidance, and i greatly appreciate her work. i'd like to recognize the other member, the members of the minority energy committee staff as well: sam faller, who has been around since time immemorial guiding us. rebecca bonner, benjamin drake, rich click, spencer gray, soraya ham, faye matthew, scott mckee, brian petite, mauri stanley, stephanie mcgoldrick. this is kind of list of emmy award winners in my book, but as good as our teams are, we need help here on the floor. and the folks on the floor staff
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have been fabulous and extraordinary, and we thank them for their efforts. laura dove and gary, thank you for what you have done. the other members of the republican floor staff: robert duncan, chris tuck, mary elizabeth taylor, meghan and tony hanigan. great people to work with and we appreciate their guidance. we had great work from the senate office, as well as the folks on the budget committee, the folks on senate leg. council. you can tell, mr. president, i'm proud of the work that so many have done in getting us here. we are looking forward now to sitting down with our counterparts on the house side and getting to work to make sure that the benefits that we have
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achieved today in the united states senate are replicated with our colleagues in the house so that we can see passage of an energy bill by both bodies and signed into law by the president. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor and would suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. a senator: mr. president, i ask the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without
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objection. a senator: i ask consent that i be permitted to make some remarks followed by the senator from california after which the senate would go back into a quorum call. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. a senator: i ask that the quorum call vaish yated. the presiding officer: without objection. a senator: i ask consent that senator feinstein and i be allowed to speak, me first and she second. the presiding officer: without objection. a senator: thank you, mr. president. mr. alexander: mr. president, the next few minutes senator feinstein and i will submit for
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the senate's consideration the first appropriations bill of the year. this will be the energy and water appropriations bill. it will be the earliest that any appropriations bill has been submitted since the budget act was passed in 1974. this is a good sign for the united states senate. it means we're serious about our most basic constitutional responsibilities, when is the oversight of the spending of money, the setting of priorities and doing it in a way that allows every senator to participate. i'm privileged to be able to work with senator feinstein who is able to come to a result after we have examined and important piece of legislation. she has a background as a manager, as a mayor, as a chairman of important committees, and i'm very privileged to have the chance to work with her, whether we're in the majority or the minority.
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before i talk about the bill specifically, since this is the first bill, i'd like to say a few words about the money we're spending. this year the budget control act which the united states senate adopted in 2015, which is the law, passed by the senate by a vote of 64-35 october 30 of last year. this year the budget control act sets the amount of money that we're to spend at $1, 700, 00, 000. our bill, the energy and water bill will be $37.5 billion of that approximately $1 trillion. however, mr. president, the entire federal budget is a lot more than $1 trillion. in fact, it is four times as
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much. the entire federal budget this year is $3.9 billion, nearly $4 trillion. so we're talking about appropriated dollars of about a trillion dollars plus about $3 trillion that we'll spend through the federal government. those dollars are what we call mandatory or automatic spending plus interest on the debt. federal health care spending is an example is about $1 trillion. about the same amount as all of the 12 appropriations bills that we'll be considering. the senator from medicare and medicaid services head is in charge of spending about $886 billion every year, almost all mandatory spending. so the part of the budget that we're talking about today and we'll be talking about for the next 12 weeks is one-fourth of
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the total federal spending. i want to thank senator mcconnell, the majority leader for making this a priority. i want to thank senator reid, the democratic leader, for suggesting to senator mcconnell and to all of us on behalf of the democrats that they, too, want to see us move through the process. this gives the american people a chance to see how we spend their money. and the american people care about how we spend their money because we have a big debt. there's a lot of talk about that debt which is $19 trillion. and this year the total revenues of the federal government are about $3.36 billion, but the spending is about $3.9 billion. so elementary school mathematics will show you that we're adding about $534 billion more to our $19 trillion debt this year. mr. president, it's important to point out that the spending that we're talking about in this bill
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and the other 11 discretionary bills is not the problem. i'd like to ask the chair to look at the bottom line in front of me, the blue line. that is what we call the discretionary spending. that is the money that the appropriations committee works on. that's the trillion dollars that we're appropriating of these bills. it's been flat since 2008 and it's rising at about the rate of inflation over the next ten years according to the congressional budget office. so if the entire budget had followed the path of the blue line on the bottom, that's the money we're charged of on the appropriations committee, we would not have a debt problem. where is the debt problem coming from? that's the automatic mandatory spending, that red line. and that does not even include the interest on the federal debt. so i've suggested in our conference that maybe what the united states senate would want to do is turn the entire budget over to the appropriations
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committee, because we're doing our job and apparently the rest of the senate or all of us as a whole are not doing our job in running up a big federal debt. senator feinstein and i have been presented an amount of money by the committee and by the senate that we allocate. we've done that through four hearings. i'll be talking about those. we have set priorities. we've cut wasteful spending, and we're beginning to get big construction projects under control. we've eliminated funding for a fusion project in france. that saves $125 million in a year which we can then put on other priorities. we've got the uranium processing facility in oak ridge, tennessee, now on a project where we're -- it's 90% designed before it's built and it will be on time and on budget before it's finished. we're working with the armed services committee to try to do a similar kind of thing with the mock facility in south carolina. we have a red team, the kind of red team that helped us at oak
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ridge and south carolina working on the new mexico construction projects. so our oversight working together is saving the taxpayers money, staying within the budget, and i'm glad to say we're not part of the debt problem. sometime weiss as a full -- we as a full senate will start working on that top line. we have a bill that will reduce that top line gross over the next ten years. the problem is senator corker and i are the only cosponsors of the bill. so we'll not be talking about that much today. i understand there may be an attempt to change the level of funding that we make, and i'll talk about that at the time this afternoon when the amendments come up. but just so everybody is thinking about that, number one, we're following the law. that's where our budgeting is. number two, we're -- the budget committee of the senate has begun to start its budget
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process based upon the number that the law sets. and, number three, our appropriations bills are not the debt problem. it is the mandatory spending and interest on the debt and sooner or later we need to deal with it. now, mr. president, last thursday senator feinstein and i and the senate appropriations committee approved the fiscal year 2017 energy and water development appropriations bill by unanimous vote 30-0. 30 of the 100 members of this body are on that committee. they all voted for it. this bill includes some items very familiar to the american people, things that they would like for us to fund properly, such as flood control, such as navigation on our rivers, such as deepening harbors, whether it is in california or in mobile or in ohio.
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such as the 17 national labs which are our secret weapon in job growth across our country. such as supercomputerring, where we seek to lead the world in supercomputing. another great source of job growth. and a big part of our budget has to do with nuclear weapons and national defense. at a time when our world is so unsafe, morons would hope we would -- americans would hope we would deal with that. we work together in a fair and accommodating manner to create a bipartisan bill. the sum is $37.5 billion, $355 million more than last year, reaching a bipartisan consensus wasn't easy. we received an allocation for defense spending that was higher than last year by about $1.1363 billion. but $808 million lower for the non-defense parts. the funding includes several
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federal agencies that do important work including the u.s. department of energy, the nuclear regulatory commission, the army corps of engineers, the bureau of reclamation, the national nuclear security administration, the appalachian regional commission. we also started with an unrealistic budget proposal from the president which cut the corps of engineers by $1.4 billion and proposed $2.3 billion in new mandatory funding for the department of energy. the bill that senator feinstein and i negotiated supports our waterways, it puts us one step closer to doubling basic energy research, helps to resolve the nuclear waste stalemate, cleans up hazardous material at cold war sites and maintains our nuclear weapons stockpile. we also conducted extensive oversight of the president's budget request and the department of energy. and as i mentioned earlier, we eliminated at least one low-priority program to reduce waste. that saves about $125 million.
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that was the international thermo nuclear experimental reactor in france. it started in 2005 with an initial cost of $1.1 billion. but we've already invested that much and the project will not likely be completed until after 2025. as i mentioned earlier, we've worked together to keep the big uranium projects on time and on budget. it is now on time and on budget. it will be 90% designed before it is constructed, and we're also working together to control the facility in new mexico. mr. president, 77 senators submitted requests to us, and we worked hard to accommodate requests of every senator. we've had many other senators who've come to us since then with amendments they'd like to offer. most senators -- i'd say in the 80's -- have something that they think is important in this bill. so if senators decide that we need to spend less money, i
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guess they need to be prepared to send us letters suggesting what they would luke to take out of the bill -- like to take out of the bill, since we've put letters into the bill based upon the amount of money the law said we should spend. the last time the united states senate passed this bill, the energy and water appropriations bill, under the regular order was 2009. i look forward to a regular appropriations process and would briefly highlight a few of the parts of the bill. one waterways infrastructure. the bill restores $1.4 billion that the president proposed to cut from the corps of engineers. at such a new record level. many senators have urged us to do this. there is not a funding line in the bill that has more support than the army corps of engineers. rebuilding locks and damns, working to prevent floods and storm damage, building environmental restoration projects. if we'd simply approve the president's request, the corps
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would receive less than what congress appropriated in 2006, setting us back more than a decade. in tennessee we provided enough funding to continue building a new chick ma chickmaug awvment n 2017. only last month the corps reiterated its most recent study that the chickmaugau lock continues to be the fourth highest priority of essential waterways to be rebuilt. we also included $1.3 pl for the harbor maintenance trust fund. this is the third consecutive year that we've funded the harbor maintenance trust fund consistent with the funding level the congress represented in the water resources development act. this will permit us to deepen harbors, including golf port, charleston, mobile, texas, louisiana, anchorage, savannah, harbors on the west coast.
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doubling basic energy research is a goal i've long supported and it is one the most important things we can do to unleash our free enterprise system. senator durbin and i have worked together on an amendment to the energy bill that increases the authorized funding levels for the office of science by about 7% per year, which would double the office of science's budget from a little over $5 billion today to more than $10 billion in ten years. that's the money basically that the united states government spends on energy research. the senate adopted our amendment by voice vote, which demonstrates how much support there is for the goal. the president has proposed to spend even more on energy research, including the mission innovation program, the pledge launched by the united states and 19 other countries at the climate summit in paris to double clean energy research over the next five years. the problem is, mr. president, that president obama's budget request proposed $2.259 billion
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in new mandatory funding for the department of energy. however, his commitment to doubling federal clean energy research with mandatory funding comes at the expense of other resourcesources in other agenci, which is at best unhelpful and, at worst, misleading. it is wis wishful thinking and everyone knows it is not going to happen. that is the bottom line that's under-d under control and is not the source of our federal debt problems. our top priority was the office of science, which includes $5.4 billion to support basic energy research, $50 million more than last year. the second year we've been able to increase funding for the office of science, which sets a new record level of funding for that office in a regular appropriations bill. this puts us one step closer to doubling funding for federal basic energy research. the bill also includes $2.927
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million for arpa-e, an agency that invests in high-impact energy technologies, a little more than last year, $1.7 million more. also ex- co-skeletal computing to produce next-generation computers. nuclear power provides about 20% of our country's electricity, 60% of our carbon-free electricity. so if we're going to have the abundance of of clean be, cheap, reliable energy that we want and need, we're going to have that, we need to unleash nuclear power by removing obstacles in its way. our legislation sends a strong signal about our support for new technologies in the next generation of nuclear power plants. we included $94.5 million for advantaged reerktds, $21 million more than the president's budget request. we included $95 million for small modular reactors, $32.5
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million over last year. one way our bill helps is by take important steps towards solving our country's stalemate over what to do with nuclear waste. a bipartisan issue and a goal that senator feinstein and i agree on and have been working hard to accomplish. our legislation therefore includes a pilot program. this was senator feinstein's suggestion three years ago -- for consolidated nuclear waste storagement, which she and i have introduced the last four years. the new sites we're seeking to establish would not take the place of yuc yucca mountain. it would complement it. we also provided funding tostore nuclear waste such as the one proposed in west texas. we're also supporting research in this bill that will help continue the work that's necessary to safely extend
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nuclear power operating licenses from 60 to 80 years. in my view, the simplest, easiest way to have a large amount of new carbon-free electricity in the near-term. finally, mr. president, this legislation provides a total of $12.9 billion for the national nuclear security administration and fully funds the warhead life extension programs recommended by the nuclear weapons council and the design of the ohio-class replacement submarine. it also supports crucial weapons facilities related to our national security. the bill provides $575 million for the uranium processing facility in oak ridge. it keeps the project on track to be completed by 2025 at a cost of no more than $6.5 billion. the legislation also advances our efforts to clean up
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hazardous materials at cold war sites, a total of $5.4 billion is provided to support cleanup efforts, which is $144 million above the president's budget request. mr. president, this bill adequately funds our nation's energy and water priorities. it fully compliesing within the spending limits established by the budget control act. the budget control act continues a line of spend for the appropriated dollars -- that is the bottom line there, the blue line there, that has been flat since 2008 and only grows with the rate of inflation for the next years according to the c.b.o. that is not the sort of the problem. it is the rest of the line which spends three times as much as the amount of money that we're spending in the 12 appropriations bills we'll be devoting for the next two weeks. i thank senator feinstein for her leadership and her cooperation. i urge senators to support the bill. we're already working with
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senators on amendments that they seek to offer. we hope to begin voting on some this afternoon in an open-amendment process improving the -- and proving that the appropriations process works. mrs. feinstein: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. feinstein: mr. president, i rise today to speak in support of the fiscal year 2017 energy and water development appropriations bill. firstly, i'd ask unanimous consent that tim dykstra a detailee for the energy and water subcommittee, have full floor privileges during the consideration of this bill. mr. president? the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. feinstein: thank you very much, mr. president. i want to begin by thanking my friend and colleague, senator alexander. we have served together as chairman or ranking member of
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this subcommittee for the past five years. i know no one in this body who is more intelligent or has a greater sense of of fairness, and i just want you to know, senator ale alexander, what is t treat it has been to work with you for these five years. i think we have a bill that will stand the test of time. each of us has had different views on different parts, but that's part of what makes this a great country. so i just want to say thank you for being who you are and thank you for being the kind of united states senator you are. thank you very much. now, if i may, mr. chairman, as the chairman mentioned, this bill has reached the floor for the first time since 2009. it is also being considered as an appropriations bill on the floor at the quickest time since
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the budgeting process began in 1974, and i just want to say thank you to our leadership on both sides for the desire to get us back to regular order and particularly on appropriations bills. and i'd like to thank all of my colleagues on the appropriations committee for supporting this bill during last week's markup. as the chairman said, the vote was 30-0, and that's at prigged prigged -- that's a pretty good vote. so thank you very much. i believe this is a good bill, a fair bill. it does contain trade-offs and hard choices, and we have worked together to settle differences. obviously the chair is the chair, and the views come number one. but in the case of this chair, he has been eminently fair, and i'm very grateful for that. as he said, our allocation is $37.5 billion. that's a $350 million increase
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over fy 2016. given the top-line budget constraints, this is a good allocation. let me first talk about the defense portion of the bill. defense spending in this bill is $20 billion, a $450 million increase over fy 2016. our defense spending includes funding for cleaning up the environmental legacy of the cold war, maintaining our nuclear deterrent, supporting our nuclear navy, and partnering with allies to keep nuclear materials out of the hands of terrorists. funding for our nuclear deterrent this year is $9.3 billion, $438 million above last year and equal to the president's budget request. the science and engineering activities needed to maintain the nuclear stockpile without
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explosive testing are fully funded at $1.8 billion. the life extension programs for our nuclear warheads are also fully funded, including for the new cruise missile warhead, which i will speak a little bit more about in a moment. i'd like to take a moment now, though, to discuss my concerns with the long-range standoff weapon, or the lrso. i believe the defense department is wrong when it argues that this isn't a new nuclear weapon. i think it is and it carries with it powerful ramifications. the lrso would carry an upgraded w-80 warhead capable of immense destruction, and it would be fitted on to a new missile,
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specifically designed to defeat the world's most advanced missile defense systems. i firmly believe that the lrso is unnecessary. the united states has already developed and fielded a conventional cruise missile, specifically designed to do the same job as the lrso. furthermore, the united states has a variety of nuclear ballistic missiles that can reach any target anywhere in the world. why do i feel so strongly about this? it's very personal with me. i am one of the few who have seen this. i was 12 years old when the united states of america, my country, dropped a nuclear weapon on hiroshima and nagasaki. to me, just as the hundreds of thousands of bodies were seared
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with burns as the radiation spread, i have never quite gotten over what happened. and i have reached the concept that nuclear weapons are really bad for this world, and i won't go into it. when you see countries like north korea practicing tests and other countries struggling to get a nuclear weapon and the high likelihood of terrorists also seeking out radioactive materials. so i am very concerned about the probable use of this missile. in a letter sent two years ago, undersecretary of defense frank kendall wrote the following -- and i quote -- "beyond deterrence, an lrso armed bomber force provides the president with a uniquely flexible option in an extreme crisis.
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this suggestion that nuclear weapons should be a flexible option is alarming, and we should never lower the threshold for using nuclear weapons. in fact, i believe we can further reduce the role of nuclear weapons while still maintaining their deterrent effect by terminating the lrso and instead relying on conventional nonnuclear weapons. so obviously this is a point of disagreement between the two of us, and this is why i am very thankful to the chairman. he has agreed to include language in the committee report requiring energy secretary moniz and the nuclear weapons council to provide more information on this warhead, including its military justification and the extent to which conventional weapons systems can meet the
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same objective. i think we should have that material. so i'm also grateful to senator alexander for his commitment to hold a subcommittee hearing on the new nuclear cruise missile. i believe this issue hasn't received the attention it deserves, and it requires some public discussion. so i want to say thank you to him. i've yielded to his point of view and in exchange i actually am happy with the report language and the hearing. so thank you very much, mr. chairman. going back to the nonproliferation account, it is funded at the president's request level of $1.8 billion, but this is $120 million decrease from last year, and i would hope that we can do better next year. work with russia on securing material and facilities in that country has slowed, but other
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threats remain at home and abroad, and i believe we should be investing more. funding for the environmental cleanup of legacy cold war sites is the highest it has been in many years, and that is very good. at $5.4 billion, that's a $126 million increase above last year. this reflects the importance this subcommittee has placed on addressing environmental contamination at sites in washington, new mexico, south carolina, and tennessee. and i want to thank the chairman for what he said about putting a pilot nuclear waste facility reference in our bill. nuclear waste is piling up all over this country with no good place for it to go.
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i can give you my state alone. southern california edison, a huge utility serving over 16 million people has had two big nuclear reactors, each one 1,100 megawatts. they're now in the process of decommissioning those reactors. this facility sits in the heart of an urban area, and there are now 3,300 hot plutonium rods and spent fuel pools at that facility site. we need a place for nuclear waste in this country because it is very dangerous to have it spread all over and to have decommissioned reactors with hot plutonium waste in spent fuel pools right on the coast of the pacific rim where we see earthquakes happening, not the least of which was ecuador and a
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recent quake in japan. so now let me turn to the non-defense half of the bill. our non-defense allocation this year is $17.5 billion, and that's roughly a $100 million decrease from fiscal year 2016. mr. president, one of the anomalies of this portfolio is the fact that as defense goes up, it crowds out the non-defense, important things like the army corps of engineers, important things like the office of science. so our non-defense allocation is that $17.5 billion. the bill maintains, despite this, funding levels for basic scientific research, energy technology development, and water infrastructure. funding for the department of energy's office of science sees a modest increase of $50 million
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to $5.4 billion this year. now the office of science is the largest single funder of physical science research in the united states. think of that. and supports research at 300 universities in all 50 states. it's experimental facilities host more than 24,000 researchers each year. funding for the office of energy efficiency and renewable energy is $2.1 billion, equal to fy 2016. and that program funds activities to develop the technology that makes our homes, cars, and factories more efficient. it lowers the cost of renewable energy sources like solar and geothermal. while i wish we could have funded the president's proposed mark of mission innovation
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climate change, i want my colleagues to know that we did the best we could, but we are simply unable to make it work with the allocation we received. now the chairman mentioned the army corps of engineers. with the highway program and the army corps, this is really the federal infrastructure program, and it is funded at $6 billion. this is an historic high. it maintains hrefpl -- level funding for the bureau of reclamation at $1.276 billion. in particular the bill provides an estimated $1.3 billion from the harver maintenance trust fund. that's the highest level ever. while users of our nation's harbors and ports pay into the fund, the money does not get disbursed by itself, and it's up to us to appropriate the money out of the fund. and this has been a challenge
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under current budget caps, and it's been a challenge to me because my state, california, pays approximately 40% of the funds received each year but gets shortchanged by the disbursment formula. so i am very pleased that the chairman and the members have agreed to provide an additional $50 million for energy ports and donor ports, like l.a. long beach, seattle tacoma, that otherwise see little benefit from the harbor maintenance trust fund. the bill, once again, includes $100 million for the bureau of reclamation's western drought response program, ten of the 17 reclamation states are currently suffering from severe to exceptional drought conditions that have devastated the agricultural industry, left some
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rural communities without any water for drinking or bathing, and killed tens of millions of trees that could lead to yet another catastrophic wildfire season in these ten states. we in california had hoped that el nino's storms would refill california reservoirs, but the drought persists and will persist. it is estimated that we need a snowpack just for point of interest, of 150% of the average by april 1 in order to end the drought. and the snowpack was only 87% of the historical average. therefore, this $100 million is critical to operating water systems more flexibly and efficiently, restoring critical wetlands and habitat and ensuring that the best science and observational techniques are being brought to bear. the bill also makes critical
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investments in new water supply technologies that help mitigate the current drought and lessen the impacts of future drought, such as desalination, water recycling and groundwater recharge. as members begin to bring amendments to the floor, i very much urge my colleagues, particularly on this side, to exercise restraint, particularly with policy amendments. the senate has just completed a broad energy authorization bill, and i understand that the environment and public works committee will soon be drafting a water resources development act. so i want my colleagues to know that the subcommittee has had to make some tough choices, but these decisions were made in a bipartisan member and have led us to draft a balanced bill, one that i believe and hope should
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satisfy members on both sides of the aisle. i thank you, mr. chairman. i thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: mr. president, i call up the substitute amendment. no, you go ahead. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to h.r. 2028 is withdrawn and the senate will proceed to the consideration of h.r. 2028, which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 96, h.r. 2028, an act making appropriations for energy and water development and related agencies for the fiscal year ending september 30, 201 6, and for other purposes. the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee.
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mr. alexander: i call up the substitute amendment 3801. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from tennessee, mr. alexander, for himself and mrs. feinstein, proposes an amendment numbered 3801. strike all after the enacting clause and insert -- mr. alexander: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the reading be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. alexander: i equal up amendment 3804. the presiding officer: is there objection? the clerk: mr. alockbox ader proposes amendment number 3804 poo to amendment number 3801. strike provided -- mr. alexander: i ask consent that the reading be waived. the presiding officer: officer without objection. mr. alexander: i as ask unanimos consent that my corps of engineers fellow jen arm strong be granted privileges through the remainder of the 114th congress. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. alexander: i see the senator lewis success here to speak.
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i would thank senator feinstein for her remarks and her leadership. i would remind our colleagues that the -- that we're open for business in terms of amendments. fortunately, 77 of the senators had made requests that we were able to accommodate in our basic bill. we've talked to maybe a dozen more since then. we're accommodating amendments whenever we can. wreed like to begin voting on any other amendments that we can vote on this afternoon and hopefully get to the next appropriations bill. i want to thank especially the staff of senator feinstein, mark mendenhall, i samantha nelson fr the way they've worked with us and my own staff, tyler owens, sharon hackett and haley alexander for extraordinarily good work. mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. vitter: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator louisiana.
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mr. vitter: today i rise to commemorate the sixth anniversary of the deepwater who are ray does on explosion and oil spill that took the lives of 11 men and devastated so many gulf coast communities. now, mr. president, it was a horrible event, but i think it's very important and appropriate that we always, always start recognizing the lives lost in that disaster. and 11 lives were lost. they were jason anderson, then 35, of midfield, texas; aaron dale bubba burk. en, 37 of philadelphia, mississippi, donald clark, 39 of newlton, louisiana. gordon jones, 28 of bataan rouge, louisiana.
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roy wyatt kemp, 27 of jone jonesville, louisiana. carl dale klepenger of natchez, mississippi. keith blair emanuel, 56 of gonzalez, louisiana. dewey rivett, 48 of stateline, mississippi. shane roshto, 22 of liberty, mississippi. and adam weiss, 24 of yorktown, texas. mr. president, the gulf coast is one of the most resilient parts of the country -- of the world, having face add variety of disasters and yet always bouncing back. always continuing to push forward. in louisiana, offshore oil and gas development is more than just our state's largest economic driver. it's a way of life, having supported countless jobs and families across the region. that's why our top priority must always be maintaining the
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highest level of safety standards and in the last six years we've been working to make sure this kind of human tragedy that we commemorate today on the sixth anniversary never happens again. it's been a real battle but the good news is that we've had a few solid wins during that time. louisiana's resilience and recovery cannot be easily measured in terms of numbers and figures, but i can say with confidence that each and every louisianan should be proud of how far we've come, including in these last six years. that's why as a region we continue -- it continues to be imperative that we fight misguided attempts coming out of washington that would hinder the progress we have made, from fighting to end president obama's misguided drilling motor to working to pass the restore act, our region has continually
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shown our ability to work together to produce the right, positive results. but the battle certainly is on-going. the current dramatic downturn in energy production has had ripple effects across louisiana and the country, which is why the very last thing the government should be doing now is imposing new, obstructive rules and regulations. instead, we should be fogging on finding commonsense solutions to improve safety and buoy our louisiana-based businesses and preserve thousands of crucial jobs. we must support policies that create a strong balance between having a solid regulatory scheme that certainly promotes strong safety standards while also allowing the energy industry to thrive and prosper. in the six years since the tragic deepwater horizon explosion and spill, louisiana
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has done what we do best: recover, rebuild, and progress. in order to build a broader future for our families, businesses, and communities, we must also protect the simple beotic relationship between federal regulations and the oil and gas industry and not allow the former to strangle the positive livelihood in that -- that so many depend on in that industry. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: .
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. a senator: thank you, mr. president. i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. a senator: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, on friday, representatives from more than 130 countries are going to be gathering at the united nations in new york to sign a broad new climate change agreement. mr. barrasso: this is the same agreement that countries negotiated in paris last year. back in december president obama said that it was a -- quote -- "strong agreement." hillary clinton called it a historic step forward, but for many, many americans, it is actually going to be a giant step backward. first this agreement i believe is terrible for our economy. the obama administration is using this international agreement to force new regulations on american energy
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producers and new restrictions on the american people. there are new rules on coal producers. there are new rules on exports of american crude oil and liquefied natural gas. this administration has spent years, years targeting the men and women who produce american energy, energy in our country. well, democrats and republicans in congress rejected the president's radical ideas. we knew that all of these regulations would cripple, cripple america's energy industry and would throw americans out of work, many in my home state of wyoming. we knew that all of these destructive rules would cost billions of dollars and produce little or no positive benefit. now, the obama administration went ahead and ignored what the people wanted and they wrote these instructive new rules anyway. mr. president, all of these regulations have consequences.
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my home state of wyoming has seen thousands of hard-working men and women lose their jobs in the energy field. just over the past few years, people working in oil and gas, in coal and uranium, just a few weeks ago two of the largest coal mines in wyoming announced that they would let go 15% of their workers, 465 families were affected by the job losses. despite all this pain, all of this pain, the obama administration went out and promised the rest of the world that it was going to keep pushing for more restrictions on american energy, on red, white and blue energy. the other countries getting together in new york on friday need to be aware that there are serious doubts about whether this administration is actually going to be able to do that. this administration has promised huge cuts to america's greenhouse gas emissions, but
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the promise has already run into legal problems. the supreme court ordered the environmental protection agency to stop enforcing the so-called clean power plant. stop enforcing it completely until the courts can decide if it's even legal. and i believe it's not legal. now, the obama administration has promised three -- $3 billion to the united nations for his climate change efforts. well, it turns out that giving away this money will violate u.s. law. the money that the administration pledge was supposed to go to the green climate fund. this is the money that the united nations plans to use to company others -- really, coerce developing countries to go along with climate change of what i believe is a sideshow. president obama asked for $500 billion for this fund in his budget last year. what happened when the budget came to the united states senate
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where the president has a request? congress rejected the president's budget 98-1. you talk about bipartisan rejection, that's it. but the administration went ahead and transferred the money anyway, even though the money was never authorized by congre congress. now the president wants to give this green climate fund another $750 million in taxpayer money. there's a second climate change organization. it's called the united nations framework convention on climate change. this organization is the foundation for funding this whole climb mate change -- climate change agreement. the administration has contributed to it in the past and it wants to send another $13 million next year. here's the problem in the legality that the administration faces. as the administration tries to give away money to these international climate change groups but it's not prohibited by law. you may ask why. well, it's because last month, march 17, the united nations
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officially recognized the so-called state of palestine. they said that the state of palestine is a full member of the united nations framework convention on climate change. well, according to a 1994 law passed by the house, passed by the senate, signed into law, the united states cannot give any money to any affiliated organization of the united states -- of the united nations that grants the palestinians membership as a state. it's called the 1994 foreign relations authorization act. these climate change groups are clearly affiliated organizations of the u.n. the united nations framework convention on climate change, the organization that the palestinian group, this so-called state of palestine just joined as a member state says on its own website that it's institutionally linked to the united nations. there's no denying it. it says that the green climate fund is one of its constituted bodies so there is a direct link.
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and the law of the united states on this is clear. it is simple. it is unmistakable. the pipeline of money that the obama administration is planning to send to these organizations is shut off. that's what happened in 2011 when the palestinian group joined the united nations educational, scientific and cultural organization commonly known as unesco. that triggered the same law and the united states has not given any money to unesco ever since. now, the palestinians have been trying to get international organizations connected to the united nations to recognize them as a state for a long time. it's part of their strategy. they think that if they can get the rest of the world to recognize the -- quote -- "state of palestine" then it strengthens their hand in negotiations with israel. this strategy absolutely undercuts u.s. policy that says the palestinians and the israelis should be negotiating
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these things on their own without the rest of the world getting involved. that's the best way for middle east peace negotiations to go forward. and it's what both the palestinians and the israelis have agreed to in the past. so the u.s. law says that when the palestinians try to go around that process, like we just saw with this climate change organization, that there are legal consequences. that's why a group of 28 senators wrote to secretary of state john kerry earlier this week. we wrote to demand that he follow the law. obey the law of the land. we wanted to make sure that the rest of the world understands clearly that it is unlawful for the united states to give another dime to these u.n. climate change groups. the obama administration has skirted the will of congress in the past when it sent $500 million of u.s. taxpayer money
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to these groups. it will not get away with sending any more money in violation of the law. the administration needs to understand this fact, and so do the rest of the countries getting together in new york on friday. mr. president, the american people do not support shutting down our economy, hurting our economy to support the administration's promises on greenhouse gases. the american people don't support the administration's spending billions of their hard earned taxpayer dollars to support this alarming climate change agreement. what the american people expect is that they expect their president and his administration to follow and to obey the law. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. work:
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quorum call:
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